It's that time of year to start making New Year's Resolutions. But, don't rush to set impossible voice goals! Here's how to ensure success.
Thinking about making a New Year's resolution?
It's official, New Year's resolutions don't work. Of the millions of people who made resolutions this time last year only 9% felt they had succesfully achieved them, according to a US study (I don't know how other countries measure-up but I bet it's similar).
Does that mean we just have to give up? Give up our dreams improving our voice? Of course not!
You can make sure that 2018 is the year to improve your presentations, the year to improve your speeches, the year to improve your voice. Instead of making resolutions, set and maintain achievable goals.
In this article, I explain how you can set realistic voice goals for 2018 to ensure that you achieve them successfully.
What Are Good Voice Goals?
First things first, what is a voice goal?
Voice is a core part of effective communication -- it makes up practically all of the Articulate step in Create, Clarify, Articulate. A voice goal is one which takes you closer to becoming the effective communicator that you dream of being.
Voice goals should be specific. However, people are often too vague about how they want to improve their voice.
Common (but flawed) Voice Goals
Here are some examples of voice goals I have heard from people when they ask questions about their voice:
- I want to improve my speaking voice.
- I want to have a wonderful voice.
- I want to not sound weird when giving a presentation.
- I want to sound like <their favourite celebrity>.
The problem with these goals is that they are not specific and they don't demonstrate why the person wants to change their voice in a particular way.
Specifying your reasons for wanting a change is important because the method of achieving your goal may turn out to be different from what you originally thought. For example, many people (men especially) say "I want to have a deeper voice." However, when I interview such people it has always turned out that they actually want something else -- for example, they want to sound more authoritative giving prsentations or they want to have more stage presence. By including your reason, you make your goals more achievable because you can update them as you learn more about your voice.
Good Voice Goals
Examples of better voice goals include:
- I want to be more expressive when giving speeches so that I am more entertaining to listen to.
- I want to speak with more clarity in networking and social situations so people understand me and don't ask me to repeat myself.
- I want to have a more commanding presence when giving presentations so that I sound more authoritative.
- I want my voice to sound more professional when speaking into a microphone so that my podcasts sound professional.
These are all goals which I have myself, or have had in the past.
Writing specific goals like these is only the starting point. The goals do not yet specify how you will achieve them. The five step process provided below shows you how to do this.
How Goal-Setting Works
There are many different theories on the best way to set goals. New Years resolutions don't work because they are too loosely defined and don't specify actions. Other techniques say that you define many rigid, "intermediate goals" on the path to one big yearly goal. This has two disadvantages: it doesn't allow for the natural changeability of plans, and it sets us up to feel like a failure when we don't reach all of the intermediate goals.
Over the past few years, coaches like Michael Hyatt, Todd Herman and Tom Mendoza have proposed a more effective approach: set goals for no longer than 90 days. This seems to be the maximum time within which we can efficiently achieve a goal. Goals set for longer than this tend to get brushed aside by more pressing deadlines.
I learned about this 90 day method just over a year ago and I have been using it myself since then. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. However, I will say that I have achieved more using this system than I have ever managed in the past. Plus, the times it didn't work were almost exclusively those when I failed to maintain the system after the initial planning session.
5 Steps for Setting Your 2018 Voice Goals
Here are the five steps for setting an effective set of voice goals for 2018.
Step 0: Review Your Past Year
Before you look to the future it's a good idea to look back at the past. I don't know about you, but I'm often so keen to get started on "the next thing" that I forget to look back at what I have already achieved.
If you haven't already, read last week's post How to Create a Communication Success Review for 2017.
Step 1: Set Your Vision
Before you set your individual voice goals, it is a good idea to set an overall vision for the year. This is like a vision statement for your voice.
It should start with the words "This year..."
For example, my vision statement this year is "This year I'm going to grow into more enteraining and inspiring speaker to grow my speaking and training business."
Your vision may change throughout the year, but it's a good idea to set one.
Step 2: Schedule Goal Sessions
Next, split your year up into 90 day chunks.
Get out your calendar and add the following into your diary now:
- Starting from today (which is your first big goal-setting session) schedule a meeting with yourself every 90 days. These four sessions during 2018 are your big goal-setting sessions.
- From today's date, add in three review sessions spaced at 30 days. During these sessions you will review the progress of each of your goals and update them as necessary.
Step 3: Set Goals for the Next 3 Months
Now, decide between two to five goals that you will develop in the next 90 days. I have found that three goals is a good number to have.
Of course, not all of your goals have to be voice-related. If you are setting other goals for other parts of your life, I would recommend only setting one or two voice goals.
As I explained above, your voice goals should be specific and should include your reasons for wanting to improve a particular aspect of your voice.
I have three goals for the next 90 days. Only one of them is soley a voice goal. My three goals are:
- (voice goal) Improve my improvisation and "act-out" skills to be more entertaining in speeches and presentations.
- (other business goal) Deliver a speech at two public speaking events and market myself to arrange a third.
- (other busines goal) Launch and deliver my -- currently "top secret" -- voice training pilot (I'll have more on this over the coming months in my newletter, so make sure to sign up to the newsletter if you're intregued).
Step 4: Maintain Mini-projects
Each of your goals should be associated with -- what I like to call -- a mini-project. Depending on your goals, one mini-project might include several goals or you might have a single project for each goal.
Each mini-project will contain a set of actions which actively contribute to your goals. You will decide these actions in the next step.
For example, my goal of improving my improvisation skills is associated with the a mini-project titled "Improv training and practice".
Other examples of goals and mini-projects might be:
- Goal: Improve expressiveness in my voice to sound more interesting in videos -- Project: Vocal expressiveness learning and practice.
- Goal: Sound more authoritative in presentations so more of my project proposals are accepted -- Project: Learn about vocal authority and creating better project proposals.
- Goal: Sound more professional when speaking in front of an audience for more professional speeches -- Project: Find and complete voice training.
Step 5: Plan Specific Actions
When you have decided on your mini-projects, it's time to set actions. These should be specific and achievable. I find it most useful to split my projects up into 30 day sections and then plan actions for each week.
For example, if your project is to "find and complete voice training" for a goal of "sounding more professional in presentations", your actions might be:
- First 30 days: Investigate and find a suitable voice training program.
- Second 30 days: Complete the voice training program.
- Third 30 days: Develop and deliver a presentation using the learned skills.
The earlier actions are likely to involve learning steps, as you will have to learn about your voice before you can start using it differently. This blog has a lot of resources to to start learning about your voice. Make sure to have a look around, if you haven't already!
You then set individual actions for the first 30 days:
- Week 1: Read up on voice training and compile a shortlist of Top 10 training programs.
- Week 2: Attend free webinars and/or read blogs from as many of these training provideers as possible to reduce the list to your Top 5.
- Week 3: Decide which training program best suits you, plan how you will fund the training and purchase it.
- Week 4: Prepare to begin the course and clear space in your diary for the following month to make room for the work.
At the start of each week, check in with yourself to see how you are progressing. If you need to alter your plan, do so. Believe me, it's better to update your plan frequently than to feel bad that you haven't achieved all your goals and let the plan slide. This has been my own major failure point over the last year -- when I feel like I'm not achieving all my actions, I sometimes stick my head in the sand and get on with other tasks while the plan slides further and further behind.
After the first 30 days are over, you should have a meeting with yourself and set your actions for the next 30 days.
Tell Me Your Voice Goals!
I'd love to know your voice goals for the next year.
What's your vision? What actions will you take?
Do you have any questions about this process?
Let me know in the comments below, on social media or via email.